Fraternity renovates house, adds new electrical system

Photo by Alex Nicoll
The FarmHouse fraternity is renovating its house to bring it up to code Sept. 20. Additions will include a new electrical system, a new kitchen and six new bedrooms.

By Alex Nicoll

The Razorback Reporter

One fraternity on campus plans on making itself more competitive in the recruitment process with a renovation project to its house that will cost $1.75 million to complete, said the fratnerity president.

FarmHouse, one of the smallest UA Interfraternity Council fraternities, is in the process of completely overhauling the interior of its house and the smaller building behind the house, called the Annex, that is used as a meeting space for members of the fraternity, Farmhouse president Tucker Brown said.

Part of the new additions to FarmHouse include adding an updated kitchen, central air conditioning and heating and six new bedrooms to raise the number from 30 rooms to 36.

The new electrical system that will be put in place for air conditioning and heating will replace window air-conditioning units and an outdated boiler system that members have been using.

FarmHouse wanted to make itself more in line with the string of new fraternity houses that have been built in recent years, like ones for Kappa Alpha and Lambda Chi Alpha, which is part of the reason for the renovation, Brown said.

The renovations will “open up how many people we can bring in” and will offer more opportunities for new member recruitment, he said.

“I’m really excited for it,” Brown said. “I loved living there, but it was an older house. It needed some new amenities.”

Most of the money for the project came from alumni donations, but the fraternity also had to take out loans, Brown said. He could not remember how much the loans were for or how much came from private donations. The city approved a building permit for the Annex part of the construction April 7 that is valued at $192,000, according to public records.

The house, at 348 N. Arkansas Ave., was built in the 1920s, and the last time it was renovated was in the 1980s, which meant the house was not up to code standards, like using radiators and window units previously, Brown said.

The university has very little involvement with the construction project because the house is privately owned and sits on private property, said Mike Johnson, the associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management.

Johnson and his staff do have the ability to exercise some authority over the project because FarmHouse is considered a Registered Student Organization.

Fayetteville city officials handle ordinances and ensure buildings are up to code, while Facilities Management officials inspect the structure for other safety hazards and bring in a fire marshal to check for any violations.

“Because of the age of the building, we were grandfathered in for many of the current codes, so no changes were necessary,” Brown said in a text message. “As soon we start renovating and changing things in the house, though, everything had to be brought up to code. So there weren’t any previous violations. There just would be if, after the renovation, certain electrical stuff hadn’t been changed.”

Most of the in-house members are living at the Atmosphere Apartments and The Spectrum apartments while the fraternity house is under construction.

The project will be completed in two phases. Phase I involved renovating the Annex, which is close to completion after construction crews worked on it over the summer. Phase II involves fixing up the house.

Brown expects construction on the house to be finished by July 2018, he said. Demolition began after the completion of the Annex and renovations will begin in October 2017.